Celebrating LGBTQ Pride in Your Destination

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<span>Celebrating LGBTQ Pride in Your Destination</span>
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June is Pride Month with celebrations happening across the globe. This year marks the start of the largest pride events taking place since the onset of the pandemic. As destinations seek ways to be creative, this presents unique opportunities for organizations to reinvent themselves and offer more welcoming and inclusive experiences. 

This year’s pride month is estimated to be larger in scale than previous years since the onset of the pandemic. Destinations are celebrating allies in several ways, including parades, educational opportunities, and social media posts. This annual event sets a powerful reminder of the importance for acceptance, diversity, and becoming a more inclusive society. This year organizations have an opportunity to create events in their destination that highlight the LGBTQ’s community strength and resilience, promote inclusivity, and celebrates the diversity of both sexual orientations and gender identities. With this year aimed at being one of the largest celebrations to date, there are countless ways for destinations to align themselves with this important audience. 

Skift estimates that the LGBTQ travel community spends an estimated 218 billion on travel, equivalent to 10% of their purchasing power. However, this growing segment of travelers faces enhanced challenges with the onset of bills in state legislatures aimed at restricting their rights. Therefore, as a destination it is vital to market to this audience in a way that is authentic, inviting, and makes them feel truly welcome. For the LGBTQ community, it is estimated that they consider whether a destination is welcoming first during their planning process. As destinations seek to market to new audiences that are more eclectic than ever, they can begin by choosing advertising that is reflective of real people within the community. Discover Greater Palm Springs is a notable example of this highlighting members of the community in their Find Your Story campaign highlighting pride events that are happening all year long. On their website, travelers can find information about accommodations, local events, dining options, comedy shows, and signature pride events including the White Party Palm Springs, Cinema Diverse, and Greater Palm Springs Spring Pride. 

LGBTQ events that Celebrate Diversity

Destinations can enhance their offerings to the LGBTQ friendly audience through initiatives aimed at the celebration of love, diversity, and acceptance. Pride parades, festivals, drag brunches, film festivals, concerts, and posting on social media are a few of the ways that destinations can show solidarity for the growing audience. Baltimore is one of many cities around the globe celebrating pride month with activations planned to include a 5K run, Legacy Launch Celebration, Twilight on the Terrace, Pride in the Park Block Party, and the Baltimore Pride Parade. Another destination Provincetown, Massachusetts attracts approximately 90,000 people a year with their pride celebration with planned events all summer long. Provincetown Pride seeks to celebrate the LGBTQ community through awareness, empowerment, and diversity. As part of the event, they have a full calendar of planned activities that highlight acceptance through comedy shows, concerts, and exhibits that chronicle the destinations history through storytelling and intergenerational perspectives. 

Destinations aiming to expand their offerings beyond pride month can celebrate the LGBTQ community through annual events including staycations, hosting pride parades throughout the year, comedy shows, brunches, live music, food festivals, and curating unique experiences for the traveler. Organizations can let their creativity shine by creating unique offerings that are authentic and engaging experiences at making travelers feel welcome and building meaningful relationships with them. In helping to create an authentic experience, destinations can actively advocate for the community, have substantive policies around Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and create equitable working and living conditions for the community in a way that makes them feel seen heard and respected.  Discover Puerto Rico has recently launched a campaign titled “Live Out” Focused on the LGBTQ audience embracing the best version of themselves. 

“Everyone is welcome here! We say Bienvenido's to inclusivity, equality, and — above all else, love!” As one of the most LGBTQ-friendly islands in the Caribbean, you will find that Puerto Rico is the perfect setting to let your rainbow flag fly high and proud.” (Discover Puerto Rico) 

Advocate for the LGBTQ community 

Organizations can engage with the growing audience by actively advocating for their rights in a meaningful and authentic way. Pride month is an opportunity for destinations to come together and celebrate the vibrant diversity of the LGBTQ community. Educational opportunities, engaging in meaningful conversations, and advocating for legislation that is aimed at protecting rights are ways that can provide a lasting impact with the growing audience. Destinations can participate in a wide range of activities including panel discussions, film screenings, concerts, challenging societal prejudices and advocate for legislation that prohibits discrimination. As of this year, it is estimated by the American Civil Liberties Union that there have been 417 bills introduced in state legislatures across the United States aiming to restrict affirming care, education, sports, and discussions around gender identity and sexual identity. Thus, it is more important than ever that destinations show their solidarity with the LGBTQ community by making them feel seen, heard, and welcome.  

Further, destinations can act by actively donating to nonprofit organizations that raise awareness including the National Center for Transgender Equality, GLAAD, Transgender Law Center, and the Trevor Project. Smaller destinations with tighter budgets can work to provide allyship through volunteer opportunities and clothing drives. Other ways to advocate for the community are through the promotion of LGBTQ run businesses and running campaigns all year long. With this initiative, organizations can interview influential members of the community; shop owners, artisans, barbers, or social media helping to raise awareness by sharing authentic stories. Regarding social media, destinations can amplify their voices by sharing stories from different perspectives, creating hashtags for LGBTQ owned businesses allowing partners to tag content, and create a landing page that highlights small businesses.

In summary, this year’s pride month is aimed at being one of the largest celebrations to date with activations planned all month long. Destinations can increase allyship by enhancing product offerings, sharing authentic stories, and amplifying the audience’s message on social media. As the community faces increased challenges, it is important to show enhanced solidarity by advocating on their behalf and engaging in meaningful conversations that lead to lasting and sustainable change. Further, destinations have an opportunity all year long to create dialogue that makes this growing audience feel seen and heard. 

About the Author

Stephanie Auslander

Advocacy and Data Coordinator
Destinations International

Stephanie is a recent graduate of Johnson & Wales University with a Master’s Degree in Global Tourism and Sustainable Economic Development. Previously, she worked as an Intern with Solimar International assisting Destination Marketing Organizations in formulating Tourism Development strategies for the Samtskhe–Javakheti region in Republic Of Georgia and the Sisian region of Armenia. Additionally, she is the author of a Tourism Research Proposal detailing ways in which Destinations can promote the concept of Sustainability to its consumers for a lasting positive impact. With a background in Tourism Development she is confident in her ability to help Destinations innovate into the future.

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